Project Management Central

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Topics: Change Management, Communications Management, Stakeholder Management
How can you secure Senior Leadership commitment to a strategic decision?

As a worked example, the Project Manager needs the Project Board for their project to approve funding for a changes to project scope (that is to design, configure and implement additional product features as requested by the Super User / Customer). The decision for this has been repeatedly delayed which means the time window for approving the scope change is getting narrower. Therefore the time to deliver the additional work as part of the overall work package is also narrowing. This might then necessitate increasing delivery stage timelines and/or increasing team management technical resources which will have a corresponding and commensurate impact on the cost and schedule of the project. I am looking for suggestions to approaches to building buy in and comitment from the project board quickly.
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Clear and concise, executive level, impact analysis results - value to approve, risk or benefits to proceed, confidence level for success, cost to reject, cost of delay (immediate and long-term).

Sean -

Andrew's covered the main highlights, but one I'd add is that if a given change is critical and time sensitive, I'd provide the project board with a head's up as early as possible so they are prepped and awaiting the detailed request.


Thank you both for the insights, much appreciated.

You can identify organizations that they respect and connect these with what you are trying to get them to buy in on

Whenever we need to request the Steering committee for Funding/or Stage Gating (e.g. Approval to move from Planning to Execution ) in our organisation, apart from a concise Business Proposal , we also attach a very brief Power point presentation and an accompanying word document to highlight the key points of the Proposal . This "Pack" is sent a week in advance to the actual Steering Committee / Project Board meeting , so that come meeting day , it's only the decision that is left to be made regarding the Change and all the Senior Managers are well informed and the onus is on them to have read and digested the information and/or commented and reviewed in the week prior to the Board Meeting.

There is an additional team called as the Portfolio Review Team which also reviews the proposal before the Project Board meets. The Review Team is composed of members of the Finance, Business Proposals team and Senior Management of Projects division. Their endorsement , prior to the actual steering committee or Board, also puts a very good level of Governance. If such a Reviewing body doesn't already exist, you could propose it for your project/program and see what happens.

As alluded by our colleagues earlier, it should contain the key benefits, risks, costs, timelines, scope , deliverable etc of the change.

WIIFM. Whenever you need to get buy-in from anybody the most important message that must be communicated clearly and upfront is what is in it for [stakeholder]. People only support something that they can see value in. This value must be clear not something you have to deduce by having to read thought document and presentations. But it is also important that stakeholders understand what they stand to lose if they choose not to go down that road. Keep in mind that the 'ME' in WIIFM becomes a wider concept the higher up you pitch. For the user it might be them as individuals but on C level the 'ME' translates to business or business unit level.

Highlight the risk & impact clearly; document it and put the ownership to the board/steerco. You need to catch the bull by its horns!

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